Excellence from the sky to the land-a review of BMW 100-year history Part One

Excellence from the sky to the land-a review of BMW 100-year history Part One

Today's BMW is one of the most successful luxury car brands, with good sales and reputation all over the world. However, in its 100-year history, it has not always been smooth sailing. At the most difficult time, BMW even became a "BMW Wood Factory" and a "BMW Cookware Factory"... Today, let us review the those ups and downs history stories of BMW's 100-year history.

1. Early aircraft engine manufacturing

BMW's first product was the BMW IIIa inline 6-cylinder aircraft engine registered in 1917. That's right, the "in-line 6 cylinder" that made bimmer's eyes shine. The reason why the first product was named not with the Roman numeral I but with III was because the "relevant department" IdFlieg classified the aircraft engines according to the power level. BMW's engines belonged to the higher power level III. Don't think too much, it's not a movie classification.

The BMW IIIa has outstanding high-altitude performance and can burst out 150kW of power at an altitude of 2,000 meters. At that time, the Fokker D.VII F fighter aircraft equipped with this engine completely outperformed the British and French fighters in terms of mobility and climb performance. The BMW IIIa became an explosive model after it was put into production in 1918. Due to insufficient production capacity, the Munich plant even had to transfer part of its production to the Opel plant in Ruesselsheim. In 1919, the Junkers F.13 passenger plane equipped with this engine flew 8 people to an altitude of 6,750 meters, setting the world record for the altitude of the passenger plane at that time.

Another point is that at this time, BMW was not called BMW, but BFW, the full name is Bayerische FlugZeug-Werke, which means the Bavarian Aircraft Factory. At that time, the streamlined biplane reconnaissance aircraft made by BMW was famous in the world.

In 1919, as a defeated country in the First World War, Germany signed the Treaty of Peace between the Allied Powers and the participating countries, the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was banned from organizing the air force, and BMW stopped production of its only product, the BMW IIIa. Before manufacturing motorcycles and automobiles, BMW first manufactured pneumatic brakes for Knorr-Bremse OEM trains, and then sold them to Knorr-Bremse as a whole. Although business has grown and employees have increased, BMW is now farther and farther away from engine manufacturing.

2. The manufacture of motorcycles after World War I

In 1922, BMW's engine division separated from Knorr-Bremse and merged with the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. In the following year, BMW introduced the first motorcycle R32. The R32 is equipped with a 0.5-liter horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine with a maximum power of 6.3kW and a top speed of 100km/h. By 1926, sales of the R32 reached 3,000, helping BMW out of the crisis after the First World War. Note that this is in 1922.

3. On the right track and start building car

Finally, the familiar "car company" BMW is about to build cars. In 1928, BMW acquired Dixi Automobil Werke AG. Dish’s only product at the time was 3/15, the same model as the Austin 7 authorized by the British Austin Motor Company, which became the BMW 3/15.

In 1933, BMW introduced the 303, equipped with a BMW 1.2-liter inline 6-cylinder M78 engine with a maximum power of 22kW and a maximum torque of 68Nm. Together with the first appearance of the double-kidney grid design, the 303 opened BMW's automotive history.

4. Motorcycle manufacturing during World War I

In 1935, Hitler tore up the Treaty of Versailles. In 1939, the German army struck Poland with lightning, and World War II broke out. In the same year, BMW acquired the Brandenburgische Motorenwerke(also known as Bramo) from Siemens, merged with the aircraft engine division, and established BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH , which began to produce aircraft engines. The shift of business focus during the war eventually led to the Nazi regime's control of BMW and the weakening of BMW's internal management.

In 1940, BMW's motorcycle factory in Munich abandoned the production of non-military motorcycles, leaving only two heavy-duty motorcycles, the R12 and R75. R12 was launched in 1935 and is equipped with a 0.75-liter horizontally opposed twin-cylinder engine with a maximum power of 13kW and a top speed of 120km/h. By 1942, the output of R12 reached 36,000, becoming one of BMW's most successful motorcycles at that time. 

5. Aircraft engine manufacturing during World War II

In early 1942, due to wartime needs, BMW's motorcycle production was transferred to Eisenach, and the Munich plant was fully put into production of aircraft engines. Among them, the most famous aircraft engines include BMW 801 and BMW 003.

The BMW 801 uses a 14-cylinder radial design with a power of 1,150 to 1,470kW. The BMW 801 is famous for being mounted on the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter known as the "Butcher's Bird". It broke the inline aircraft engine at that time (for example, BMW's first product BMW IIIa). The radial engine has a small frontal volume and therefore low resistance, which is more suitable for the general recognition of high-performance design. The BMW 801 was the largest radial aircraft engine produced during World War II, with an output of more than 28,000 units.

The BMW 003 was initially developed by the Brandenburg Engine Plant, code-named 109-003. In 1939, BMW acquired the Brandenburg Engine Plant together with the 109-003 project. However, since the first test in 1940, the BMW 003's problems "cannot stop at all." The Messerschmitt Me-262 fighter, which was originally planned to be equipped with this engine, later abandoned BMW altogether. It was not until 1943 that the BMW 003 passed the test and mass production began the following year.

The BMW 003 is one of the two turbojet engines put into production in Germany during World War II. BMW produced only about 500 units in total, and only a small part was installed on the aircraft. But even this small part is enough to make the BMW 003 "unreliable".

Fortunately, the BMW 003 was not successful. Because according to later calculations, if the war lasts until mid 1946, the annual output of German turbojet engines can reach 100,000 or more, and the possible threat and even the loss of life and property caused by this will be immeasurable. However, the BMW 003 was captured by the Soviet Union and France after the war, laying the foundation for the development of turbojet engines in the two countries.

6. The predicament and rise after World War II

At the end of World War II, the BMW factory in Munich was completely blown up by the Allies, and engine production was banned by the Allies. BMW started with the production of pots and pans (BMW pot factory), and gradually expanded its products to other kitchen supplies and bicycles. In 1947, with the permission of the United States, BMW resumed motorcycle production. In East Germany, the Eisenach factory resumed motorcycle production as early as 1945.

At the end of the 1940s, BMW determined its strategy to enter the luxury car market based on the reality of its own small production capacity. In 1951, BMW launched the 501 luxury sedan. In 1954, sales of luxury cars doubled. In 1955, BMW introduced the 507 sports car.

At the same time, in response to the consumer trend of the German market shifting from motorcycles to light vehicles, BMW purchased Isetta's production license and the production equipment needed to build the body. The BMW Isetta was put into production in 1955, and sales exceeded 10,000 that year. By the end of production in 1962, BMW had produced a total of 161,728 Isettas.

7. Almost acquired by Mercedes-Benz

Since the Americans lifted the ban on motor vehicle production, BMW has finally gained the independence that it has dreamed of for decades. From then on, no one can tell its own business. However, after more than ten years of development, BMW in 1959 found that the cars it launched after the war hardly made money: BMW 501 power technology is old, 502, 503, 507 luxury car sales are too low to be profitable, although Isetta is selling well But the profit is too low, and the BMW 600 based on Isetta is like an outcast in the market.

If you are careful enough, you will find that all the cars produced by BMW so far are concentrated in the two extremes. They have the most luxurious and the lowest-end models, but BMW is not prepared for the growing demand for middle-class car purchases after the 1950s. Like Germany in the two world wars, BMW is stuck in a two-line battle. It produces luxury cars to compete with Mercedes-Benz, and economic models directly target the public. It is a pity that BMW lost this "war", and it was a two-front defeat. Both Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen achieved brilliant achievements after the war, but BMW had to face huge losses.

In 1954, BMW sold its Allach plant to MAN. Later, AMC and Rootes in the United States also expressed their hope to acquire BMW. At the same time, the Bavarian government also introduced a BMW rescue plan-directly merged it into Mercedes-Benz. All M&A plans are unwilling to see BMW shareholders, because BMW will lose its hard-won independence. The "blue sky and white clouds" are likely to disappear from the car body and steering wheel forever, and then retain the BMW name. There is only one product for motorcycles.

At the shareholders meeting in December 1952, the plan to incorporate Mercedes-Benz was formally proposed. For BMW at the time, this seemed to be the only option.

Dealers and minority shareholders rose up to oppose the merger, but they were at a loss as to how BMW could tide over the difficulties. At a critical moment, the Quandt family led by Herbert Quandt and his brother Harald took a shot. They invested heavily in BMW and took control of the company.

The Quandt family is one of the wealthiest families in Germany. They control a large number of industrial companies in Germany, but they almost never show up in public. Low-key is the common feature of members of this family. Herbert Quandt’s family previously owned 10% of Mercedes-Benz and about 30% of BMW’s shares. When BMW was in crisis, Herbert had no intention of intervening in the merger of the two companies, but at the last moment he decided to invest money to maintain BMW’s independence.

Herbert's financial adviser opposed his approach, and the Quandt family also did not support it. Everyone believed that the dying company was hopeless. But in the end Herbert still rejected the crowd and injected a lot of money into BMW, because he believes that the reputation for quality and performance over the years is worthy of the brand's continued existence.

8. New series, new beginning

Thanks to the investment of the Quandt family and the profits of the 700 series models, BMW received funding to develop new models in the early 1960s. Through market research, BMW decided to position the new model as a mid-size car between Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

In 1960, the "New Class" project was officially launched. BMW equipped this project with many top automotive talents: Fritz Fiedler, who was poached by the British, had returned to BMW at this time, and he was the head of the entire project. In addition, Eberhard Wolff was responsible for the chassis design of the new car, the design style and body engineering were overseen by Wilhelm Hofmeister, and the new engine was managed by Alex von Falkenhausen Build.

The first model of the "New Class" project, the BMW 1500, was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961, and the formal mass production was a year later in December 1962. The new car is a four-door sedan mid-size sedan, which uses four-wheel independent suspension, and front wheel disc brakes have become standard equipment.

The BMW 1500 can be said to be the originator of the 3 series. It has perfect driving experience and control. In addition, the front edge of the C-pillar of the BMW 1500 and the 3200 CS model that was unveiled at the same time has a special corner. This corner is called by the name of its designer. For the "Hofmeister kink", the C-pillar design has since become the same BMW classic design as the kidney grille.

This time, an in-line four-cylinder engine was built specifically for the "New Class" series positioned in mid-range cars. Originally BMW’s requirement was 1.3L displacement, but Falkenhausen believed that this was not enough to meet the company’s future needs, so he persuaded the company to set the displacement of the new engine to 1.5L. In addition, he specially reserved the modification when designing this engine. In order to easily expand the displacement on the basis of the existing engine when more powerful models are needed in the future.

The code name of this engine, originally its code name is "M115", where the last two numbers represent the displacement of 1.5L. In the next few years, BMW introduced a variety of displacement versions based on this engine, and most of their code names followed the "M1××" naming method. In 1975, BMW referred to this series of engines collectively as the "M10" series, and then in 1980 the company unified its own engine naming rules, such as the new name of the 1.8L engine of the M10 series called "M10B18".

The performance of the "New Class" four-door sedan in the mid-size car market is very impressive, so BMW struck the iron while it was hot, and launched a two-door version of 1600 at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966: 1600-2 (the "-2" in the car name represents The two-door, 1600-2 was subsequently renamed 1602, and it was collectively referred to as the "02 series" with the subsequent 1802 and 1502 models, and the previous four-door models were called the "00 series"). Its chassis is also based on the "New Class" platform, but the wheelbase is shorter, and some luxury and comfort configurations are also reduced. The reduction in size and configuration has brought more flexible handling and more affordable prices, which has won BMW more young consumers and home users.

There is also a very famous story about this two-door model: 1600-2 was originally positioned to face the lower-end market, but the lightweight body made many people notice its sports potential, BMW product planning manager Bönsch and M10 engine designer Falkenhausen also put a 2000 2.0L engine into their private 1600-2. When they found out that the other party had also made the same modification as themselves, they realized that there must be some on the market. This demand.

Immediately, Bönsch and Falkenhausen submitted their proposal to produce a 2.0L two-door model to the BMW board. At the same time, American dealer Max Hoffman also issued a request to BMW to produce a sports two-door model. BMW adopted their suggestions, and the famous BMW 2002 came into being. Then BMW successively introduced high-performance versions such as 2002 ti, 2002 tii and 2002 turbo. They helped BMW win many races including the 1970 Nürburgring 24 Hours. There is no doubt that 2002 is one of the most famous models of the BMW brand in the 20th century. Its powerful handling has earned BMW the reputation of "driver's car".

If you look closely, you can find that the words on the 2002 spoiler are reversed. This is intentional, so that the car in front can recognize it at a glance in the rearview mirror.

9. Build a brand and go global

The hot sales of "New Class" and its derivative models finally made BMW turn around. In fact, BMW got more than just material returns from it, because it was from this series that BMW gradually established itself as a "sports luxury brand." The status of the arena. The foundation of the success of "New Class" is naturally its strong product power, and a successful marketing strategy is also indispensable.

At the same time, American auto brands often start with designers and engineers to build a car, and then market personnel will do marketing work based on the characteristics of the car. However, BMW is very clever to first determine a brand personality (sports luxury), and then design products around this positioning, so that the entire brand's marketing strategy will be very unified, and it will also make it easier for consumers to remember the brand.

In the 1960s, BMW was far less well-known in the world than Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. Therefore, when the "New Class" was invested in the world's largest car market, the United States, BMW carried out very effective brand promotion. It was here that BMW put forward the slogan "The Ultimate Driving Machine". A short sentence became the most successful slogan in BMW history.

10. Return to the luxury car market

The 00 series in BMW's “New Class” was positioned as a mid-level/executive-level car at the time. Their success also made BMW consider continuing to introduce higher-level luxury models, which would allow it to share with Mercedes-Benz in the growing luxury car market. A piece of the pie can also shape the image of the BMW brand as a luxury car manufacturer. The full-size four-door luxury sedan, code-named E3, was produced in 1968. It uses a BMW's latest M30 inline six-cylinder engine.

Because of the use of a six-cylinder engine, this series is also called BMW's "New Six" series. Its two-door coupe version is codenamed E9. The first model is the 2800 CS with a 2.8L engine, and then in 1971 , 2800 CS is replaced by 3.0 CS and 3.0 CSi (the "i" in the name represents a fuel injection engine).

11. The emergence of M power

It is undeniable that the rapid rise of BMW in the 1960s and 1970s is also related to the thriving economic situation in European and American countries. The economic development also stimulated the revival of motorsports. In order to participate in it, BMW established its own high-performance modification department BMW Motorsport in 1972, which is the predecessor of the now-famous BMW M.

BMW Motorsport’s first work is the BMW Turbo (E25) concept car that was dedicated to the 1972 Munich Olympics. It is a mid-mounted rear-drive model built by BMW Motorsport on the basis of the 2002 chassis. It uses a pair of gull-wing doors. The wedge-shaped body can be regarded as the prototype of the later classic model M1.

The 3.0 CSL based on the E9 platform is the first mass-produced racing car of BMW Motorsport. This car was unveiled in May 1972. The "CS" in its name means the same as the previous model, which means a coupe, while "L "It does not mean lengthening (German: lang) in other models, but represents light weight (German: leicht). In order to reduce weight, BMW engineers used thinner steel plates for the 3.0 CSL, the sound insulation materials and body trim were removed, and the doors, engine compartment cover and trunk cover were also replaced with aluminum alloy materials.

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